The role of space travel in the development of the 5G network

The race for 5G seems to have shifted to space. According to the ESA, in fact, satellite communications will be key to the development of the technology

When we talk about 5G connections and all the new technologies that will be able to develop in full thanks to them, everyone thinks of towers with signal repeaters. It's normal: 3G and 4G work this way and it's natural to think that 5G will be a predominantly "terrestrial" technology.

However, in the development of 5G and its applications, space will also play a fundamental role. ESA, the European Space Agency, is convinced of this, and has launched the Space for 5G initiative, calling for the participation of the main European companies in the aerospace and telecommunications sector. According to ESA, in fact, the maximum performance of 5G, the best coverage and the most complete practical applications can be obtained only by integrating satellite technology with ground repeaters. Two projects, and several companies and public bodies, have already started to work in this direction.

Spire's satellite network

Spire is a British data company that, thanks to satellites and terrestrial connectivity, offers predictive analysis on sea routes and areas and weather forecasts. Spire's 80 satellites track the identity, position, course and speed of each ship and, thanks to artificial intelligence algorithms that also take into account the weather, can make predictions on travel times and time of arrival in port. This avoids crowding at commercial ports of call and optimizes operations ashore.

The Darwin Project

The integration of satellites and terrestrial networks into 5G is also the basis of the Darwin Project, a partnership between ESA, satellite operator Telefonica 02, several British startups and the universities of Oxford and Glasgow. Darwin will be used to develop autonomous driving technologies for the cars of tomorrow, allowing vehicles to be always connected and traceable thanks to the continuous "switch" between terrestrial and satellite connection.

The other players in the Space for 5G Initiative

Other companies and research centers are also participating in the ESA initiative. These include Cranfield University, which has an aviation digitization project underway; HiSkym a low-cost virtual satellite network operator; Inmarsat, a global satellite operator offering services similar to Spire's; Open Cosmos, which manufactures the satellites; and, finally, Sky and Space Global, which is planning to launch 200 nanosatellites into low Earth orbit.